By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The Wyoming House of Representatives did not consider a bill Tuesday aimed at keeping voters from changing parties to influence the outcome of primary elections, leaving it to die in the closing week of the budget session.
Senate File 97 was not considered for “committee of the whole” on Tuesday, the deadline for reviewing bills returned to the full chamber by committees, meaning it will no longer move forward in the legislative process this session. The bill had been supported by former President Donald Trump.
The bill received a “do not pass” recommendation from the House Appropriations Committee on Monday, with five representatives voting not to move it forward.
If the bill had been signed into law, it would have specified that people wishing to change party affiliation would have to do so about three months prior to a primary election or between the primary and general elections. Currently, voters may change party affiliation up to the day of a primary or general election.
The Appropriations Committee heard more than an hour of public testimony on Monday regarding the bill, both in support and opposition.
Bill sponsor Sen. Bo Biteman, R-Ranchester, was the first to testify before the committee, echoing similar comments he has made about the legislation since the session began last month.
“We’ve seen in recent elections, a concerted effort by people that have no intentions of being with one party,” Biteman testified. “They want to influence the outcome of that particular party’s election. I don’t think that’s right.”
He has previously said that the bill is intended to keep Democrats from switching their party affiliation to Republican to influence the outcome of the Republican primary elections.
Biteman did not immediately respond to Cowboy State Daily’s request for comment on Tuesday.
Gail Symons, who runs the legislative blog Civics 307, pointed out during her testimony that the voting numbers between 2018 and 2020 showed that more Republicans switched to Democrat than vice versa.
“While there might be a lot of communications…the truth is, it’s not translating into actions,” she told the committee. “By no means do I think it’s appropriate to change party and vote for no other reason than to mess with somebody else’s nominations. My point is the data shows that is not happening.”
Laramie County voter Angela Sylvester told the committee on Monday that having to register for party affiliation so far in advance would be a huge inconvenience for her, as a single mother.
“I don’t like to vote along party lines,” she said. “I like to vote for who I think would be the best person.”